Subsistence, sedentism, and social complexity among jomon hunter-gatherers of the japanese archipelago

Naoko Matsumoto, Junko Habu, Akira Matsui

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

12 Citations (Scopus)


Jomon is the name of the prehistoric period and culture on the Japanese Archipelago that follows the Paleolithic Period and precedes the agricultural Yayoi Period. Most scholars agree that the date of the oldest pottery in Japan (ca. 16,000 cal. BP) marks the beginning of the Jomon Period. The end of the Jomon Period is still controversial. In Kyushu, the transition from the Jomon to the Yayoi Period may have occurred as early as 2900-2800 cal. BP, but in northern Honshu, the end of the Jomon Period is likely to have been as late as 2400-2300 cal. BP. Because the Jomon Period lasted for more than 10,000 years, and because the geographic characteristics within the Japanese Archipelago vary significantly, Jomon culture shows marked temporal and spatial variability. This chapter reviews recent developments in Jomon archaeology with an emphasis on two different Jomon cultural trajectories in eastern and western Japan from the Initial to Final Jomon Periods. We conclude that Jomon archaeology is moving forward from a phase of data accumulation based on the results of a large number of rescue excavations to one of data organization and interpretation. New lines of archaeological evidence, including results of chemical and scientific analyses, can help archaeologists tackle key questions that still remain unanswered.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of East and Southeast Asian Archaeology
PublisherSpringer New York
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9781493965212
ISBN (Print)9781493965199
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2017


  • Hunter-gatherer settlement and subsistence
  • Japan
  • Jomon archaeology
  • Sedentism
  • Social complexity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Arts and Humanities(all)


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